Hearing the buzz through the public announcement system, Elizabeth stopped messing around with the inscriptions pen provided to her by the tournament. She played around with the ingot in her hand for just a couple seconds longer as she waited for an attendant to collecting her work and after finally giving up her refined iron ingot, she waited on the stage like all the other contestants to see the results.
Back in the VIP area, as the various judges were processing the pieces of metal that the competitors turned in, everyone was anxious to hear what the result of Elizabeth's work turned out to be. Alas, the alphabetized organization system implemented caused everyone to stay anxious for quite a long time. Fortunately, the attendant that had earlier been sent out to investigate Elizabeth's background, returned just before the judges started processing contested who's surnames started with the letter "I."
Upon learning that her last name was Ultimatia, literally, all those in the VIP area were baffled. Not only was the name unrecognizable, but it also didn't even sound real! Temporarily, the questions of her background were put on hold, as the judges focused on doing their job to make sure the tournament events proceeded at a smooth pace.
To the judges' side, Lady Keter also took a gander at Elizabeth's background information and she couldn't help but chuckle. 'Just what is that kid doing?' As she shook her head, she patiently awaited the result of this stage just like the rest of the arena.
Eventually, the ridiculously big TV screen finally changed as the announcer began speaking once more. Waking everyone up with his booming voice, the announcer said, "The results are in! May I have everyone's attention?!"
Within the second, the entire area quieted down to the point that a pin dropping became audible. At that moment, the announcer continued speaking, "Now then, may I have all of you turn to the large display on the north side of the arena? We'll begin listing off the competitors that didn't make the cut. If you see your name at this time, please leave the arena." As the announcer's words faded, the screen changed and a long list competitor numbers began scrolling down along with the performance rating the competitor received during that round.
[#302 | Score: 2.11 | Refinement Rate: 21%
#538 | Score: 2.14 | Refinement Rate: 21%
#1151 | Score: 2.19 | Refinement Rate: 22%
The screen scrolled at an incredible rate, but since everyone participating was a cultivator, they had more than enough time to scan through the information and see if they were called up. As the results came up, the disqualified practitioners began leaving the arena stage in a mix of negativity. Some were dejected, others hateful, a couple understood their capabilities and accepted the boot gracefully, while a few had to be removed forcefully after being unable to restrain their emotions.
These International Wushi Tournaments only came once a year, and everyone who participated took to the stage whilst trying their absolute best. Nothing was more crushing to a rising martial practitioner than to be told you weren't good enough, especially in front of the rest of their peers and the higher-ups in the Martial Society as a whole.
For the most part, those that left now fit two camps. On one side, there was the younger generation of practitioners that were mostly there to get experience. Those in this camp weren't as crushed as the others, as they could blame their poor performance in their lack of experience. But for those on the other side, the "older generation," they had been to numerous Wushi Tournaments of the past and could no longer hide behind that excuse. To many, losing here represented the limits of their talent and to cultivators, who pursued strength and cultivated their will alongside it, the conflict of their limits and their ideals could easily bring about a life crisis...
As names kept scrolling through the screen, a couple minutes passed before the first competitor to reach the minimum 50% refinement rate was disqualified. However, soon after that name came up, the list of disqualified competitors abruptly stopped.
Again, the announcer began speaking. With a joy that wasn't even attempting to be concealed, the announcer said, "Marvelous! Truly, marvelous! How many years has it been since a whole 500 competitors have made it to Stage Two of the Forging Event?! Hahaha, It's only fitting for this result to come about at the start of the new era. Now then for the next 490 proceeding competitors, please turn to the screen for the results." Now the list of names that ran through the screen had a bit of extra information attached to them.
[500th Place | #102: Ian Debiles | Score: 5.21 | Refinement Rate: 52%
499th Place | #754: Desmon Brown | Score: 5.22 | Refinement Rate: 52%
498th Place | #1375: Jin Shui | Score: 5.25 | Refinement Rate: 52%
Finally, the crowd and competitors around started to cheer as they had at least passed this first stage. Yet, Elizabeth stood in contempt for all these people. '52% brings you excitement? 52% is a score worthy of such praise? What a joke...' She shook her head as the names continued to head towards the top ten.
Once there, the announcer spoke once more. As the screen changed to show the appearance of a woman who looked no older than 25, the announcer said, "As we head into the top ten, all those that have made it this far will get a shoutout along with a detailed analysis of who they are and what they've accomplished! So, then… Number 10! Mei Xuezi, the fair maiden of Tairou Temple in China. In reaching the top, Ms. Xuezi has refined down her material to reach a refinement rate of 87% and has earned herself a score of 8.71. Number 9! ..."
Elizabeth was practically dying of boredom as she awaited her results. She had her ear's twitch as she heard that a female made it to the top ten when all she had seen before was nothing but men. But besides that small bit of surprise, all that was left in her system was disappointment. She thought, 'Perhaps all the Spirit Realm cultivators are disallowed to compete?' She couldn't think of any other reason for why a score as worthlessly low as 87% refined managed to reach the top ten.
However, as she was drifting through her thoughts, a familiar name entered her ears. A moment prior, the announcer said, "Number 7! Dave Mateo, son of the head of the world famous Ultra Killing Gym in New Mexico. Reaching an impressive refinement rate of 91%, Dave has achieved a score of 9.19; almost a whole 0.4 score increase from Number 8!"
For a second, she had forgotten who Dave was and only after seeing his image on the screen did she recall that he was the "nice guy" that gave her all that free information. Hearing that he made it to the top 10, Elizabeth flashed a cringe-filled smile. On one hand, she was amused that such a low score made it to the top tens, but since she knew him — just barely… — she kind of felt it was a funny twist of fate for them to meet and talk before the competition.
Eventually, the moment of truth came, as Elizabeth played around with her inscription pen; twirling it around her fingers. Finally, the time to announce who received the number two spot for the First Stage came. Yet absolutely no one either on or off the area could have prepared themselves for what the announcer had to say.
Clutching onto the cards that indicated him on what to say next, from his area of the VIP spectator area, the announcer took hold of the mic and said, "Number 2! Oh? What's this? There appears to be an upset, as this year's most likely to win the Forging Event actually took second in the First Stage! Daniel Cherkovski, smithing legend from the Moscow Federation of Forging and Smithing, has taken second place with an astounding refinement rate of 96%. With a score of 9.66, he has surpassed Number 3 by nearly 0.3 points! A gap that is seemingly inconceivable this far into the rankings!"
Immediately, the crowd, the contestants, almost everyone erupted in conversation, as they really couldn't believe that someone managed to produce a refinement rate greater than 96%. For the past five Wushi Tournament, Daniel had been dominating the competition with everyone vying for second place, and this year, the year that he had surpassed his personal best by over 0.5 points, the Smithing King had been usurped? Who had beaten him and what score did they receive?!' That was the question on everyone's mind.
In the ensuing moments, the entire arena descended into chaos as they heard the announcer say, "As for Number 1… Uh… What?!" For a moment, the announcer had failed to restrain himself and his booming voice shook the whole arena as he could be heard asking someone in the background, "Is this really true?" No one aside from the announcer and those present in the VIP area could see, but all the judges were nodding their heads at the announcer as self-deprecating smiles covered their faces.
It took a moment, but after the announcer regained his bearings, he said, "Number 1… Apparently, a dark horse, the like of which has never appeared on this level has taken center stage! Coming from Atid's dojo based in Florida, Elizabeth Ultimatia, has taken first place with an unprecedented 100% refinement rate and a perfect 10 out of 10 score..."
Now, because Elizabeth had reached the top three, her picture wasn't shown on the titanic TV screen. Rather, broadcasting studio-quality cameras were used to record the reactions of the competitors that made it this high up the ranking. However… because Elizabeth already knew the result and had begun to look down on practically everyone taking part in this competition, she barely reacted when it was revealed that she won with a perfect score. Still twirling her inscriptions pen in her hand, Elizabeth didn't even try hiding her boredom as she wished to get this over with as soon as possible.
At the moment, the only thought in her head was, 'Hopefully, the rewards they hand out will be worth all this time that could have been put to training...' Her high hopes for this tournament were mostly relinquished after seeing how easy her "competition" turned out to be.